Bill Magargal

Drummer Bill

Bill Magargal

We live in a small community in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Marie, my wife, and I have traveled extensively in India, Asia, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand; plus a few European and Middle Eastern countries.

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Europe » France » Centre » Tours August 27th 2013

Mon., Aug 26 - To Paris Thanks to George Fawcett, who drove us, we made it to JFK without a problem and were able to find a porter to haul our bikes and panniers, etc. to check-in. At the desk we learned we had been bumped up to business class which meant we had wide, reclining seats with leg rests and lumbar support. Ahh, the fates were with us. The flight to Paris was uneventful and we arrived thirty minutes early. We got carts and managed to negotiate our way to the Les Car du France bus stand where we got a bus to the Gare Montparnasse train station. Unfortunately, the bus did not drop us off directly in front of the station but rather we were deposited about a block away. Now we had two ... read more

Asia » India » Gujarat » Ahmedabad February 22nd 2012

When we returned to the AWAG production facility Wednesdeay afternoon the women were eager to show us all they had done during our absence. Wow! they completely finished nine quilts .. piecing, quilting and binding. About six of them were certainly saleable as first class goods. Madina had even found a way to quilt the Chinense Coin quilt with sine-wave stitching. We took photos of all the quilts. Everyone, including us was pleased. Soon everyone began changing into their finest saris and kurties in preparation for our farewell party. The women made arrangements for Marie to have Mehndi (henna) applied to her hands. I must say, I love Indian women's fashion. Raven hair, supple limbs, and flowing silks in so many colors with sequins, mirrors, embroidery to add sparkle to it all. Everyone was in a ... read more
Marie & Madina with Nine-patch quilt
Marie Getting Mehndi (Henna)
Home Sewers Sitting Together

Asia » India » Gujarat » Ahmedabad February 21st 2012

Today, Tuesday, we went back to the Shaibau Police headquarters to turn in the color copies of our passports, proof of Ilaben's residence and letters stating what we did while in India. Oops, after waiting to meet with the assistant commissioner we learned that both of us required copies of the same ducuments, i.e. Ilaben's gas bill, her passport, etc. so off we went to a shop to make copies. to waWe returned to the Police Headquarters for the fourth time armed with fresh Xerox copies of everything. Each of now had 21 pages of documents, seven passport sized photos and our passports. "Finally we've got everything." Wrong! the beauraucrat now handed us another form and imformed us that we must return with the new form on Wednesday and wait to be interviewed. We learned that ... read more

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu » Swayambhunath February 15th 2012

Tuesday morning Shiva hailed a taxi and we headed to the Swayambhu Temple. By now the smog had Marie wheezing by the effort of simply getting out of bed. When we arrived at the temple there were a few monkeys playing around, some beggars, souvenier vendors, snack wagons, etc. and wide stairs that went straight up seemingly to heaven, (it turns out that there were 367 steep steps to the top). Marie saw the steps and said "I think I stay down here and watch the monkeys and locals." Shiva and I began our trek up to the temple. We stopped every so often to catch our breath ... even Shiva whose village was high in the Himalays had to take breathers. After 200 steps or so we could finally see the main stupah at the ... read more
Painted Stone Carvings Along Stairs
Main Stupah at the Top
Monastery Grounds

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu February 14th 2012

I first met Shiva Shrestra in 2000 when he was attending a two-month study program at Boy's Town in Omaha, Nebraska. I remembered that he was a very effusive guy with a big smile. He spent a week with me while Marie was away on a business trip. We hit it off very well. We had long discussions about social issues around the world and his Save The Worldorganization. Before he left we hosted a gathering of David City friends at our home and helped him sell Nepali handicrafts to raise funds for STW. Over the years since our meeting we would periodically email each other he would often end his messages with "You must come visit me in my home!". When he saw on my facebook page and travel blog that we would be in ... read more
View from Shiva's balcony

Asia » Nepal » Kathmandu February 13th 2012

Like most of the world these days India takes pains to protect itself from terrorists, especially after the terrorist bombings and shootings in Mumbai about two years ago. Airport scanning and security checks are much like they are in the US and pretty much all airports world-wide. But, when we made plans to visit Nepal little did we know that process of getting permission to enter Nepal and then to re-enter India would take almost as much time as we would spend in Nepal. To wit: Before leaving India we had to go to the Ahmedabad Central Police Station in the Shaibagh District. It took about twenty-five minutes to get there by car. Fortunately, Ilaben is highly regarded in India so we were able to see the assistant commissioner without much delay. His office was piled ... read more

Asia » India » Gujarat » Ahmedabad February 3rd 2012

The AWAG fabric arts facility and shelter is located in a poor, predominately Muslim area. At the corner is a hand operated Ferris wheel that the small kids love to ride. Goats and neighborhood stray dogs rummage through the trash in the lot adjacent to the shelter. We arrived about 11:00 AM and were greeted by Farnaz, Sara's daughter and main designer, and Malini, the office manager. Malini has a severe s-shaped spinal deformity that makes it nearly impossible for her to walk. After greetings Sara introduced us to the ten women who would be taking the class. All were dressed in very nice saris or salwar chamices (tunic top with leggings or pajama type pants). All seemed eager to meet us. The mood was festive. We began with a simple small panel fabric to use ... read more
Ferris Wheel
Malini's Quilt

Asia » India » Gujarat » Ahmedabad February 3rd 2012

We woke up at Ilaben's about 9:00 to the smell of fresh chai and a hot Gujarati breakfast. We had slept nearly 15 hours. I guess the flights and jet lag had taken their toll on us. After a good night's sleep and wonderful breakfast we were ready for the day. About 10:00 AM Sara, AWAG's managing director, arrived to take us to the textile production facility where we would train ten women how to make quilts. Sara's driver was a quiet middle aged man with a warm smile. He was an excellent driver. Thank Goodness! I had forgotten how insane driving in India is, and Ahmedabad's traffic now included many more drivers than 1994. Ahmedabad Traffic The traffic is heavy with everything from pedestrians, camels, scooters, cows, cars, donkeys, bicycles... read more

Asia » India » Gujarat » Ahmedabad February 2nd 2012

Last night we stayed at one of AWAG's safe houses in a fairly remote part of Ahmedabad. We woke when the chokidar (watchman - helper) brought us some tea. We ate some apples we had brought with us and sipped our tea on a warm veranda. A nearby tree held the skeletons of kites felled during the previous month's kite fighting festival of Utarian. Monkeys skittered along the walls and trees, and the birds, traffic sounds, and daily living sounds were just so different from our quiet woods at home that it was pleasant to just soak it all in. It is good to see that the India we remembered from our trip in 1994 is still here. The familiar smells of cooking fires, neem trees, dust and whatever else it is that makes the aroma ... read more
Marie on the Veranda
Canine Rickshaw Wallah
Man Feeding Goats

Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai February 1st 2012

The Dubai airport is a large world-class facility with perhaps 150 gates. It is abuzz with tourists from all over the world. It has many high-end boutiques and shops, but the most prominent store is the huge duty free area. It has everything from chocolates to liquors, electronics, perfumes, etc., plus an entire small shop dedicated to Cuban cigars. Although Gujarat is a dry state we know that a few of our Indian friends like to have a small stash of Johnny Walker hidden for special visitors and special occasions. So, we now had a purpose to shop. We picked up two half-liters of Johnny, plus a half of gin for one friend who especially likes Brittish traditions. Even though we were flying Emirates Airlines we could tell that the boarding crew was following standard Indian ... read more
Kutch Tourist Sign

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